Concerned with how trivially knowledge is treated online, as snippets of information that can be accessed, consumed and acquired by all at any time in just a few mindless clicks, and its concomitant threats to digital sovereignty, I find myself imagining an alternative digital atmosphere, one that prioritizes and encourages both attentiveness and reflexivity.
This speculative project was conceived as part of Virtual Grounds, a series dedicated to feminist perspectives on digital sustainability and survival presented by Trinity Square Video and the Digital Justice Lab. Thank you to Emily Fitzpatrick and Nasma Ahmed for the visionary initiative, as well as all their team for the logistical support, especially Mari Zhou for keeping us organized and on track. Thank you to all the guest instructors and speakers for he inspiration. Thank you to all the fellow participants for sharing their thoughts, doubts and hopes. Thank you to Morehshin Allahyari for her guidance. Thank you to Omar Grant and Bhavin Kapadia for their technical advice, and to Marcia Diaz for creating a design and user experience that reflect the message.
Laurence Butet-Roch is a photographer and writer focused on examining the tense relations between local communities and resource extraction operations, developing creative strategies to cover systemic environmental racism. Her relationships and commitment spurred the research-creation collaboration that culminated in her Master’s of Digital Media (Ryerson University) thesis.
In partnership with the local Aamjiwnaang Environment Committee, Virtual Aamjiwnaang: Indigenous Interactive Storytelling identified strategies for the community to share their stories of resilience using digital interactive tools in ways that honour their knowledge-sharing protocols.
The lessons learned also served to co-design, with Dr. Sarah Marie Wiebe, the Mixed Media Storytelling approach for the research-creation project Reimagining Attawapiskat, which exposes media biases by inviting community members to share their own narratives through a variety of digital and tangible communication formats.
She is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at York University and is a Graduate Research Associate at the Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology. Her current research, supported by a Joseph Armand-Bombardier SSHRC Award, unsettles mainstream representations of environmental contamination in Canada through participatory visual discourse analysis and collaborative photographic approaches. She teaches Interactive Storytelling at Ryerson University.